United States of America – Stuck in Customs

My Trip to Burning Man 2019, Part 1

I took over 5,100 photos this year, but that’s not really the point. Well, it’s part of the point, at least for me. I really enjoy being off by myself with my camera and enjoy random connections with art and people. This is year #10 in a row for me and I’m slowly figuring more and more and more about the event and about myself! I went again with my two roommates (Jonatas from Brazil and Rene from New Zealand), and this year I brought my virgin friend: Hugh Howey! We call people virgins who have never been to Burning Man before, and you’ll see a photo of him below. You may know him from his Wool series of books… we got to be close friends recently when we hiked the Camino de Santiago together. Anyway, if you can’t tell, he really enjoyed himself!

I spend about 8 hours a day sleeping, 8 hours a day taking photos, and 8 hours a day involved with molecular compounds to expand my mind and consciousness. Of that, my roomies and I do a 50% mix of “fun” molecules and 50% “spiritual, personal deep-dive” molecules. The latter creates perhaps the most interesting journeys, as we now have a lot of experience in understanding the nature of reality, love, and fearlessness. I could talk forever about this… don’t get me started! But I do have a whole chapter about it in my new book towards the end.

To another end, I’ve been working with a group of friends in Silicon Valley and beyond to help bring this kind of consciousness to the world. If you want to read more about the latest successful experiments and upcoming FDA approval (to treat depression, PTSD, and others) at Johns Hopkins Medicine, read this article entitled “First Major Center for Psychedelic Research Opening in the U.S.”. It features my friend Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress and fellow Camino to Santiago pilgrim), Tim Ferriss, and others. If you find this intriguing, there is a deeper dive you can do with Michael Pollan’s new book, “How to Change Your Mind,” which is on my recommended book list!

Anyway, enough with that, let’s look at some photos and hear some stories! 🙂


Here is “Folly,” one of the most awesome art pieces at Burning Man this year, as the Monaco sailed up for a visit. It was one of the first giant works to burn. I would have taken photos of it burning, but my two crazy roommates and I decided to go dance at the Opulent Temple instead. It’s hard to explain… I don’t take photos ALL the time there, even though I got several thousand over the week.

This year I brought a virgin! His name is Hugh Howey (Pictured here with my friend, the fully clothed Joe Azure) – and you may know him as the sci-fi author of Wool and many other books. We hiked the Camino de Santiago recently and I slowly convinced him to join my friends at Burning Man. I’m super persuasive… ya know? Anyway, he didn’t bring a lot of clothes, but that seemed to work for him. He’s an awesome friend and it was a really good chance to bond and blow his mind via various molecular compounds. More to come about that… I know he got ideas for some new fictional works! I look forward to seeing what comes out of that brain (and shorts). Haha… yeah… he basically kind of owned Burning Man in his first year. Well done, Hugh, well done… *all 80,000 people there giving him a golf clap…

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Here’s my friend Eleanor Preger hanging out in the saloon at Folly out in the deep playa. It’s so strange meeting friends there because 98% of the meetings are completely by accident. I often intend to meet 20+ people out there, but since no one really uses mobile phones to communicate (thank goodness), finding your friends is almost impossible. So, you can imagine the surprise when 1 out of 80,000 people shouts out your name! I was over here taking photos and Eleanor screamed out my name! It’s always an exciting time to connect in this incredible serendipitous manner. She was here randomly serving free drinks (all drinks are free at Burning Man) to whoever came by. As soon as I arrived, she had just finished a fine bottle of Pinot Noir.

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Here’s a photo of Root Society, one of the 100+ camps where DJs play music all night and all day. This is one of the bigger ones that can hold over 1,000 people. Well, they are all outside, so they just kind of expand out into the night winds, so the numbers can go way up. It’s a great time to go out and dance because at night it really cools off and there is an incredible breeze. This year was not as cold as others. Sometimes it gets down to below freezing! I’d usually go out with Rene and Jonatas and other random people that get attached to our little silly crew. We jump around to about half a dozen camps per night… we’re big on the comedy along the way, always cracking one another up with some of the most ridiculous commentaries you’ve ever heard…

Here’s a fun little story from Burning Man if you don’t know much about the thousands of events that happen out there. This one is from the Bunny March (a fake protest of faux conflict) where about 5,000 people dress up like bunnies and hop across the desert to The Man. Waiting there, in secret, are a bunch of children – about 100 little Black Rock Scouts dress up like “Animal Control,” running around and trying to catch the bunnies with huge nets. The grown-ups give them a good run but always end up getting caught. After you’re caught, you are given a giant syringe full of tequila to cure you of your faux conflict for one more year. Kids get to pose with the bunny they caught and we exchange necklaces and hugs and then hop off into the desert.

Creative Commons Noncommercial - Contact licensing@stuckincustoms.com for more info

Here’s the giant 747 that made it out to Burning Man this year. It was converted into a huge dance club that would taxi across the playa every night to a different location. I took this just before sunrise. This year, I think I saw about 80% of the sunrises which was a new high for me! On this particular night, the plane had taxied way into the deep playa out near Michael Benisty’s work, “Broken Together”. I have a photo of these two together that I am still working on…

I always spend Temple Burn night by myself, out in the deep playa, several miles from the rest of the city where there are pieces of art randomly scattered. This piece is by Michael Benisty, who you may remember from last year (he did the two chrome figures hugging entitled “In Every Lifetime I Will Find You.” I knew he had a new work out here somewhere… I finally found it late in the week and this one is called “Broken Together.” Actually, I wasn’t totally by myself. There were two other people here… and it reminds me that I randomly meet some of the most interesting people in the world here. You can see this gentleman here, who was also out taking photos. He was with his wife. 16 Burning Mans for him (10 for me… a common question amongst burners). Anyway, he used to be a Southern Baptist Preacher. I talked with them for a while… I said, “I assume after a few burns you were no longer a man of the cloth?” He nodded his head and laughed… saying yes…yes…you know… and then we gave one another a hug and went off into the night.

Comments

Manhattan from Redhook

Wanna see something weird?

Sure you do! Does anyone know what software they use to make this?

Daily Photo – Manhattan from Redhook

When I was out in Brooklyn a few months ago working on a commissioned piece, it gave me the chance to really get to know the area. I had always heard about this “Red Hook” part of Brooklyn but never really experienced it. Walking around is great, but getting up there with a drone is even better for getting a sense of the geometry of the place.

Manhattan from Redhook

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-22 12:57:01
  • CameraFC2204
  • Camera MakeDJI
  • Exposure Time1/1250
  • Aperture2.8
  • ISO100
  • Focal Length4.4 mm
  • FlashNo Flash
  • Exposure ProgramProgram AE
  • Exposure Bias+0.3

Comments

Up, Up and Away!

Dogs are Amazing

Check out this dog… it knows there is a baby in the belly. Thanks again, reddit, for blowing my mind!

She can sense tiny human in belly from aww

Daily Photo – Up, Up and Away!

In the middle of the summer, I visited my friend’s ranch in Yellowstone. I stayed there for a bit over a week and it was an amazing trip! The ranch holds about 15 people, and every few days, a helicopter would arrive to bring more guests in and take other guests out. The horses on the ranch now are so used to it, they completely ignore the chopper and just chomp away on the grass.

Up, Up and Away!

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-07-09 23:59:18
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/4000
  • Aperture4
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Daily Photo – Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Maybe I’ve been lucky, but every sunrise I’ve seen on the east coast of Florida has been absolutely beautiful. Even on days when it’s quite cloudy, the sun somehow manages to pop through and make the whole scene epic. Besides that, nothing beats a morning walk on the beach to clear your head and get you ready for the day! 🙂

Sunrise in Fort Lauderdale

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-13 06:34:02
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/400
  • Aperture8
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length29.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Pittsburg from Above

Daily Photo – Pittsburg from Above

When people ask me which city I was most surprised by during my trip to the US, I always say Pittsburg! I had no idea how beautiful it was. Anyway, it gave me another chance to experiment with a new technique, which you can see in today’s photo. Now, when I take cityscape shots, I purposefully cut off the top of the buildings so you can’t quite tell what city it is. From sharing travel photos from so many places around the world, I notice people really enjoy trying to guess where a place is. Showing the whole skyline, therefore, makes the photo a bit more predictable and boring!

Pittsburg from Above

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-08-04 19:01:50
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture4
  • ISO125
  • Focal Length86.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

Scariest Halloween Pumpkin

I saw this frightening carving!

Most terrifying pumpkin ever from funny

Trey’s 360 Podcast – Kevin Kelly on the Wider Application of Burning Man Principles

NOTE: If this is your first time seeing a 360 Video, note you can grab the screen and look anywhere!

As we walk the Camino de Santiago Kevin Kelly (founding executive editor of Wired magazine, check him out on kk.org ) and I talk about how Burning Man might influence wider society.

And for the audio inclined…

Daily Photo – Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

I think the best time to visit this artistic beast is while the sun is setting. While there, a good challenge is to see how many different sorts of shots you can. The obvious one is to capture the whole thing with a wide-angle lens, but some of the more interesting shots are zoom-ins like this one. It’s kind of fun for me to wait for people to be in interesting positions to make the whole thing seem more alive.

Exploring The Vessel at Sunset

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-22 20:24:04
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/125
  • Aperture6.3
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length57.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Exploring the new World Trade Center of New York

Great Show on Netflix

I found another good one! Watch Inside Bill’s Brain. It’s a 3-part show about Bill Gates…

Daily Photo – Exploring the new World Trade Center of New York

Right by the site of the disaster, I walked into this tremendous building that was designed by Calatrava. I didn’t know anything about it ahead of time, and I was excited to go inside and see what was happening. Much to my surprise, it was just like a shopping mall with Apple Stores, etc. I don’t know what I expected, but I wasn’t all that excited by seeing a Sephoras and stuff like that.

Exploring the new World Trade Center of New York

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-20 16:05:40
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/500
  • Aperture4.5
  • ISO250
  • Focal Length16.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

The Beach in Coney Island

Daily Photo – The Beach in Coney Island

While I spent a few days in Brooklyn to research it for an art project I was working on, my friend took me here to Coney Island. What a cool spot! Unfortunately, it was the same day as the mermaid march, so there was absolutely zero parking… but that gave us a chance to go a little further down the beach to take a look at what it’s like to be in New York and sunbathe on the beach!

The Beach in Coney Island

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-21 15:07:08
  • CameraILCE-7RM2
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/6400
  • Aperture4
  • ISO640
  • Focal Length24.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Family in Fort Lauderdale

Trey’s 360 Podcast – Craig Mod, Behind the Podcast

While walking the Camino in Spain last year I recorded this chat with Craig Mod as he was recording our chat for himself. You’ll find us discussing all sorts but there is a bunch of useful info in here for those of you who might be thinking about how you can approach one of these long hikes as a complete novice.

Find out more about Craig and his awesome writing at his site: https://craigmod.com/

NOTE: The battery dies part way through on the 360 camera but the audio lives on!

If this is your first time seeing a 360 Video, note you can grab the screen and look anywhere!

And here is the audio only version…

Daily Photo – Family in Fort Lauderdale

I found taking photos in Ft. Lauderdale to be a little difficult, to tell you the truth. There’s nothing wrong with the place, but there are not many iconic places or even cool “secret” places. I mean, there’s a few… but it’s mostly beach. When I’m in these situations, I usually look for cool street photography, or, in this case, beach photography. It’s fun to find interesting family situations and try to capture a tableau vivant.

Family in Fort Lauderdale

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-06-13 14:54:24
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time1/640
  • Aperture5.6
  • ISO160
  • Focal Length105.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias

Comments

Night View of Philadelphia

Daily Photo – Night View of Philadelphia

What a great city Philly is! On my first night here, I was staying over there on the left at the Ritz-Carlton, and then I went out to take some night time photos. Usually, when I arrive in a new city, I have an unexplained high level of energy. I love to use this energy to go out and get lost in the city and take photos. The whole city felt very safe to me, so I had no problem roaming around and finding scenes like this. That’s the giant City Hall right there in the middle. It’s a well laid out city because there are four long roads that all lead right to that iconic building.

Night View of Philadelphia

Photo Information

  • Date Taken2019-08-07 20:47:21
  • CameraILCE-7RM3
  • Camera MakeSony
  • Exposure Time2.5
  • Aperture8
  • ISO320
  • Focal Length72.0 mm
  • FlashOff, Did not fire
  • Exposure ProgramManual
  • Exposure Bias+2

Comments

Newsletter Sign Up

The most beautiful newsletter ever!